LIVE BLOG: ‘Iolani Classic, day 3

Pau hana
Thursday’s scores
White Station (Tenn.) 56, Mount Vernon (N.Y.) 51
West Linn (Ore.) 65, ‘Iolani 59
Roman Catholic (Penn.) 55, St. Rita (Ill.) 51
Westchester (Calif.) 79, Hamilton (Wis.) 54
Fuxin (China) 48, Kaiser 47
‘Iolani 41, Radford 32
Oroku (Okinawa) 47, Kailua 38
Kamehameha 54, Moanalua 47

Friday’s games
9 a.m. Kaiser vs. Radford
10:30 a.m. Kailua vs. Moanalua
Noon Fuxin vs. ‘Iolani II
1:30 p.m. Oroku vs. Kamehameha
3:30 p.m. Mount Vernon vs. ‘Iolani
5 p.m. St. Rita vs. Hamilton
6:30 p.m. White Station vs. West Linn
8 p.m. Roman Catholic vs. Westchester
* Slam dunk contest to follow last game

• • •

Chapter 1
Just got here and boy, the games are about 45 minutes behind. That’s good for me. I had some all-state football photos and interviews to do at Punahou this afternoon.

While I was there waiting on a photo, I saw Hawaii Prep lead Farrington 43-40 with 5 minutes left. I knew HPA would be tough with their coaching staff and annual Euro bigs on the roster. But they had a real chance to beat the No. 2 team in the state. Three missed free throws in the final 2 minutes hurt, and Farrington pulled out a 55-49 win.

The second game at the Punahou Invitational is another good one: Kalaheo vs. Walnut Grove (Ore.). On the whole, to be frank, the lineup of local teams is stronger at the Punahou tourney than the ‘Iolani Classic. Don’t believe me? ‘Iolani II, which is scrappy and small, beat Radford 41-32 this morning in consolation play at the Classic. Doesn’t mean the Classic is not worth watching; there are a lot of solid teams in it. But Punahou’s tourney has Pearl City, Kalaheo, Farrington, HPA and the host team, No. 1 Punahou.

Even Punahou II is a solid team. Yes, I’ve seen them, and they almost beat St. Francis last week with five guys in uniform. (The rest of them were at Punahou’s football banquet.)

Catching up on today’s action at ‘Iolani. The next game is host ‘Iolani against speedy West Linn (Ore.). The Raiders are clearly the longshot in this one, but anything can happen. They play smart basketball, have just enough shooting and aggressiveness from Zach Buscher (6-2) to make things interesting. But if they don’t get back on defense quickly, West Linn will run and gun them out of the gym.

Hamilton of Milwaukee, Wisc., and Westchester of Calif. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
Hamilton of Milwaukee, Wisc., and Westchester of Calif. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
Kevon Looney of Hamilton goes to work. He got whistled for a push-off on this play. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
Kevon Looney of Hamilton goes to work. He got whistled for a push-off on this play. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
They don't run pick-and-rolls with Looney. Yet. Usually he'll take an entry pass at the top of the key and go iso. The main defender for St. Rita has four fouls at halftime. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
They don’t run pick-and-rolls with Looney. Yet. Usually he’ll take an entry pass at the top of the key and go iso. The main defender for St. Rita has four fouls at halftime. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
A drive to the basket by Looney. He's most effective inside 10 feet. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
A drive to the basket by Looney. He’s most effective inside 10 feet. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

Westchester (Calif.) 55, Hamilton (Wis.) 31, halftime
Now this is more like it. Both teams are running and shooting. One team is playing defense. Hamilton, even with 6-foot-10 phenom Kevon Looney, allows way too many uncontested layups. It’s almost insane.

But Looney is keeping them in the game by hitting a zillion foul shots. At 6-10 and agile, he’s starting his possession at the top of the key and beyond every time, driving the old-school fans in the gym slightly mad. Sure, he could be posting up and dominating the game. But that would be too easy, maybe. He’s got a few Dirk-like step-back moves that, well, have potential.

He spent the entire first quarter as the point guard, bringing the ball upcourt against trapping defenses. That may have been necessary, but he is tall and he does see over the traps. Thing is, Hamilton doesn’t have another strong low-post presence. It’s basically four guards and Looney.

Westchester 73, Hamilton 41, end third quarter
It’s bizarre, really, to see a 6-10 athlete like Looney content to drift on the 3-point arc almost exclusively. To his credit, he did take his man (about 6-foot even) into the low post once, but they turned it over before he could get a touch. What would any coach do with a kid this gifted?

This is what I’d do:

1. He stays in the high and low posts as long the game is close. Close as in, the lead is less than 25. Above that, do what you want. I’d run a 3-point play for him now and then. But otherwise, dominate the post with drop steps and power moves. Jump hooks.

2. Absolutely must get at least four offensive boards per quarter. Think that’s unreasonable? Come watch him play on Friday and Saturday. He’s got the physique of a young Kevin Garnett. Does he have the will to be an offensive rebounding machine? Not yet. I know what I’m saying here, that he should average 16 offensive boards per game. But frankly, that would be easy for him.

3. He should also be dominating the defensive glass. In other words, he could average 25 caroms per game, not a problem. But it isn’t happening.

He could and should be scoring 10 points per quarter on the low post, with free throws and an occasional mid-range J, even a 3 once in awhile. But for whatever reason, he’s a 6-10 drifter.

Westchester 79, Hamilton 54, final
Layon Gooden scored 18 points and Myles Stewart had 17 to lead the Comets. Elijah Steward added 14 and Akil Hall-Reese tallied 11. Kevon Looney led Hamilton with 33 points, including 16-for-19 from the foul line.

But I still say it would’ve been a different game if the Wildcats were committed to using Looney on the high and low posts, tipping offensive rebounds to himself for 32 minutes. Throwing down dunks more than once or twice a game.

All of this isn’t to say Westchester caught a break. They run the UCLA cut well, fitting for a Southern Cali school. The Comets take pride in team rebounding. They box out, which is more than I can say for a few of the mainland “elite” teams in this year’s Classic.

But back to Looney. On a team with a bunch of 7-footers, sure, he would be fine as a shooting guard. But the Wildcats roster has just one player 6-3 and one 6-5. Everyone else is smaller. The day he decides to be a dominant player in the paint, his world will change. The perimeter game will always be there. But if he were a post scorer, Hamilton would’ve been in this game from the start. That simple.

Epilogue: Just talked with Kevon Looney. He says it was physical out there, that Westchester did a good job containing him, which is true. They bumped him around pretty good. But he said he normally will use his post moves and score down low. He also said that’s what he’ll be doing tomorrow night. And he’s entering the slam dunk contest.

So much to look forward to. If a guy says he can go out and make plays, I want to see it.

Note: The Wildcats have just three returnees, including Looney. That explains a lot about why he handles the ball so much. One of their parents mentioned that Westchester was extremely fast. I don’t know if that says anything about Hamilton’s level of competition back in Milwaukee, or if Westchester is simply that much better than other teams here.

St. Rita vs. Roman Catholic. Midway through the third quarter, one team is in the bonus already. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
St. Rita vs. Roman Catholic. Midway through the third quarter, one team is in the bonus already. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

Roman Catholic (Pa.) 28, St. Rita (Ill.) 24, third quarter, 6:39
Bluntly speaking, this is like watching workers in a couple of factories, sweating away as their managers scream at them for anything under the sun. This is grind basketball at its finest, or worst, depending on how you look at it.

Talk about wringing out every last drop from a dry towel. Both teams are inclined to pass the ball 10 times or more before attacking the rim. It’s not like there aren’t any athletes on the floor. There are a lot on each side.

Makes me long for teams like Oak Hill and Yates. Oh, especially Yates, a team that ran and ran and didn’t care if you could run with them. They were determined to score 100 points every night regardless of the opposition. Didn’t need or want a shot clock. Yates would’ve been fine with a 10-second shot clock.

I enjoy great defense, no question. But this is painful to watch. Whatever happened to the West Philly Speedboys and Howie Evans? Does anybody run a fastbreak out East anymore? I’ve seen Makule League — 35-and-over — games with twice the pace and offensive skill.

The argument for a shot clock at the prep level, for me, isn’t just about preventing stall-ball boredom. It’s about encouraging teams and players to develop their offensive skills. Trusting the players. Not micro-managed games. Not players who are afraid to shoot the ball all night.

Roman Catholic 45, St. Rita 31, end third quarter

Roman Catholic 55, St. Rita 51, final
Shep Garner hit two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to ice the win.

It was a close call for the Cahillite, who led by 12 in the third quarter. Victor Law, St. Rita’s 6-7 senior, splashed a trey from the top on a pick and pop with about a minute to play. That cut the score to 53-49. But after coming up with a steal, the Mustangs didn’t look for him and committed a charging foul. He was wide open on top again.

Another Roman Catholic turnover gave St. Rita the ball with about 25 seconds left, but they didn’t take a shot until a layup with :07.3 to go.

Rashann London led the Cahillite with 15 points. Garner added 12. Dominique Matthews had 13 to lead the Chicagoans. Charles Matthews and Law added 10 each.

West Linn (Ore.) warming up for its quarterfinal game with host ‘Iolani. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
West Linn (Ore.) warming up for its quarterfinal game with host ‘Iolani. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
‘‘Iolani Raiders warming up. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
‘‘Iolani Raiders warming up. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

Quarterfinal: West Linn 16, ‘Iolani 13, end first quarter
The Raiders got a buzzer-beating, hanging 13-foot jumper from Chris Gallacher to pull within three. The Lions’ fastbreak has been slowed by the retreating Raiders, who are also using a patient halfcourt offense to change West Linn’s tempo.

West Linn 34, ‘Iolani 29, halftime
Anthony Mathis, a 6-3 junior, scored all 12 of his points in the second quarter for the Lions. ‘Iolani took a 29-27 lead on a trey by Erik Yamada, but the visitors went on a 7-0 run to end the half.

West Linn 51, ‘Iolani 42, end third quarter
The Lions went on a 13-4 run to open a 51-39 lead late in the third. They were ahead 40-35 when they switched from man to a 2-3 zone, which gave ‘Iolani some fits.

West Linn 65, ‘Iolani 59, final
Pritchard was outstanding: 22 points and seven assists. Mathis scored 15 points and post Shearmire finished with 13. Phillip led ‘Iolani with 20 points. Buscher finished with 13.

Quarterfinal: White Station (Tenn.) 56, Mount Vernon (N.Y.) 51
LaDarius Coleman scored 17 points to lead White Station, the No. 7-ranked Spartans. Nych Smith and Chris Chiozza chipped in nine points each. Devonte Banner paced the Knights with 13 points. Yhanni Bartley, Brandon Martin and Judah Alexander added 10 points each. Alexander, a versatile 6-5 wing, left the game midway through the fourth quarter with an injury.

Consolation: Fuxin (China) 48, Kaiser 47
Guowen Ao scored 19 points, including the winning 3-point shot in the final seconds, to lift the New Star to their first win in the tourney. Jiawei Feng added 12 points. Tarius Hill led Kaiser with 16 points and Chance Kalaugher added 11. Matt Haili chipped in with 10 points.

Consolation: ‘Iolani II 41, Radford 32
Preston Kamada scored 10 points to lead the D-II Raiders. Jordan Riley had nine points for the Rams.

Consolation: Oroku (Okinawa) 47, Kailua 38
The Trojans got 13 points from Taiki Yamakawa for their first win in the tournament. Yukito Kamekawa added 11 for Oroku, which is the smallest team in the tourney with no players above 5-11. Kawehe Hano Kohatsu led Kailua with eight points.

Consolation: Kamehameha 54, Moanalua 47
Sharpshooter Noa Kinimaka scored 16 points and Alaka‘i Fretias added 15 to lead the Warriors. Slashing guard Jamaal Willis scored 17 to pace Moanalua. Aaron Stuart added 13 points and Antoine Hines chipped in 12 in this rematch. The teams met last week at the ILH-OIA Challenge in a game won by Kamehameha 56-47.

FRIDAY: Slam dunk contest after the last semifinal game.


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